There’s been a humorous meme making the rounds on social media depicting a corporate Zoom meeting, with the caption reading, “Company stuck in infinite doom loop of ‘No, you go ahead.’” It’s funny, but in reality, getting from a traditional work landscape to a virtual one has required employees and managers to, at a minimum, overcome hurdles.
But if your company is like many others, this was less ‘flipping the switch’ and more ‘turning the dial’. Many workplaces had already offered some form of telecommuting before the work-from-home orders began, and in turn, some of your employees were well-prepared for the switch.
Though it may have been a slight shock initially, studies have shown that working from home often increases productivity, reduces stress, and saves employees money. Understandably, nothing is universal, and some may have had more challenges getting up to speed than others.
As a manager, your goal is to bring out the best in your team. From setting expectations to empowering your team with the right technology, here are just a few tips to help your employees become even more productive when working from home.
Reducing the Burden of Technology—with Technology
Increased use of technology has dramatically improved workplace productivity in some areas. In others? Not so much.
Did you know that it takes you about 25 minutes on average for you to get back into the zone of maximum productivity after you check your email? Did you know that you check your email six seconds after it arrives?
Now ask yourself, how many more emails (or Slack messages) did you send since the beginning of the work-from-home order? It’s likely the answer was “more.” Maybe you didn’t have access to the files you needed, or maybe a business process didn’t run as planned without access to the server.
If employees have problems accessing or handling documents, this could set forth a chain reaction of emails that slows down the entire team’s workflow. Cloud-based document management software can help address this difficulty.
Not only do these solutions facilitate access to files, they can reduce the number of emails that need to be sent and mitigate the hidden productivity drains that plague your business.
Eliminate Manual Steps
Manual steps in business processes can be similarly taxing on productivity. If people have to toggle between different applications and re-key data from one app to another, this is a drag on productivity. At home, where people may not have access to large flat screen monitors as they do in the office, this can slow things down quite a lot.
Today’s software not only needs to eliminate workflow hiccups and provide a single source of truth, it needs to provide functionality no matter the screen size.
Acumatica cloud ERP, for example, lets people work simultaneously on a single system that spans accounting, supply chain, sales order management and more. It can connect with Customer Relationship Management (CRM), human resources and payroll and warehouse management, among others. By making this kind of solution the centerpiece of remote work, you can cut down on productivity-sapping manual hand offs between systems.
Improving remote productivity
When you’re at the office, everyone is on a level playing field. The same processing power, the same access to systems, the same internet speed—probably even the same computers.
Remotely? Not so much. Devices differ in age. Internet speeds range from base level packages shared by an entire family to top of the line ones used by your Bitcoin-mining IT guy. Now, add an extra layer of programs needed to access systems and it can be hard to keep track of how much work someone is doing.
Data analytics can help solve this puzzle. You might be able to examine work-related metrics from before and after the stay-at-home-orders and determine if people are losing their productive edge.
With accounts payable processing (AP), for example, you could measure the number of invoices being processed per week. If it’s trending down, that could indicate a productivity problem. Such analysis may be easier in structured tasks like (AP) than it is for subjective, collaborative workflows for marketing, for example.
It’s helpful to establish clear policies for remote work. This is a good idea in general, but it can also be beneficial for productivity. Like, you may want to make it clear that remote workers must be logged into the corporate network at all times during the business day. Or, they may not use a personal device for work. (You may have to purchase them a device.) But this way, you will have less of an issue with people sneaking over to glance at Facebook and so forth, during the workday.
The Non-Techy Stuff
It’s important to keep in mind that some issues affecting remote productivity are not related to technology. Work-at-home parents may be struggling with taking care of children. Or, they lack high-speed Internet or a quiet place to work. It’s vital to assess a productivity problem with these kinds of factors in mind.
We have worked with companies on keeping productivity high for remote employees. If you want to learn more about how we can help you use technology for maximum remote productivity, let’s talk.